Home to diverse landscapes and peoples, eastern Cambodia shatters the illusion that the country is all paddy fields and sugar palms. There are plenty of those in the lowland provinces, but here they yield to the mountains of Mondulkiri and Ratanakiri Provinces, where ecotourism is playing a major role in the effort to save dwindling forests from the twin ravages of illegal logging and land concessions.
Rare forest elephants and vocal primates are found in the northeast, and endangered freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins can be seen year-round near Kratie and Stung Treng. Thundering waterfalls, crater lakes and meandering rivers characterize the landscape, and trekking, biking, kayaking, ziplining and ethical elephant interactions are all taking off. The rolling hills and lush forests also provide a home to many indigenous communities, known collectively as Khmer Leu (Upper Khmer) or chunchiet.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Eastern Cambodia.